From experiences in my life, I have been impressed lately how of ourselves, we are so weak, the devil so strong, and how we need the help of the Lord. And what we sometimes forget is the importance of encouraging our brother in the faith. I do not feel qualified to write this, as I am so of the flesh, but I want to be obedient to the Spirit’s prompting.
We know that the devil and his spirits are loose, working frantically in the Battle for the Soul, trying to gain as many as possible before time ends. He is trying most of all, I believe, to destroy the church, “for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time” (Rev. 12:12). It seems he is trying extra hard in these last days and, sadly, is gaining a hold in too many Christian homes. I am impressed with the importance of understanding how weak we are without the help and shield of God and the importance of watching and having the strength to resist the wiles of the devil. “Be sober, be vigilant: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8).
We well know and hear much how we make ourselves almost too busy to live a Christian life. We simply have to make time, or we begin to die spiritually. Ephesians 6:11 says, “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” It begins in the morning. A song says, “Start the day with God, and you will find, the day smoother goes.” Prayer needs to be as familiar to us as the sunrise. We also need a little “quiet time” sometime during the day. It may be different with each of us, but maybe it means rising in the morning earlier than normal to read the Word or take a walk, or at break time at the factory. Or it could be singing your little ones to sleep at night. God cannot speak to us, and we cannot hear as well when our minds are full or while we occupy ourselves with socializing and sports. I have found many times that after the company leaves, the day is done and the house is quiet, that God brings me thoughts and reproofs that I had missed out on with the busyness of the day’s activities. This is truly a blessing of the Holy Spirit. As a youth, my mother would tell me, “A Christian can’t grow when he’s always on the go.” Trips, social plans, long hours at work are not conducive to Christian growth. The wrecker of homes has a big advantage when he comes to visit the stressed and tired mind. When we are the busiest and weariest (youth, parents with young children) the devil works overtime. Why does it have to be this way? “But he giveth more grace” (James 4:6). More trials, more grace! God is always stronger than the devil.
A healthy mental life is a part of the shield that is easily taken for granted. Some are not blessed with as strong of mind as others. When you are discouraged with life and even the church and feel like a total failure with your child training, wondering where your friends went, maybe you are simply worn out mentally and lacking sleep. Satan will especially attack exhausted youth with the thought of giving up. Sleep over it, lest you make rash decisions; the next morning you may have a different attitude. Yes, we need the Lord most of all, but we must respect our earthly body.
We need rest and time to converse with God and let Him fill our lamps with oil. We may be burning “midnight oil,” but are our lamps burning God’s oil, oil of love to our spouse, oil of patience with our children, oil of love to our brother, love for the lost souls? This takes a daily renewal.
It is said that the duty of a missionary (which is every Christian) is to encourage, encourage, encourage. A brother new in the faith told me once that he needed lots of encouragement, or he would easily get discouraged. I was very reproved and felt like I had failed him sorely. Maybe the missionary is a little more responsible, but isn’t our mission right here at home to bear up our brethren already in the battle? We all need it, from new Christians to experienced ones, to schoolteachers, to lay members, to staff members—everybody. Sometimes we might expect that the ones who instruct us in the way every Sunday don’t have the struggles we do. The truth is, we are all made of the same flesh. We need to pray fervently for God’s elect, for the evil one may tempt this one or that one harder than us.
Our pride wants us to put on a good front though we may be struggling inside. We can appear very courageous on the outside and talk right in Sunday school. Some may be trying hard, but in reality are living unfruitful lives in homes full of tears. Satan says, “Look, he had introduction last Sunday and his children sit so nice in church; he’s doing fine, and you’re just not good at encouraging people anyway.” Maybe in reality, Christian life seems hard, and they are wearing down. They are hoping someone will notice how it’s going. Maybe all it takes is a little word given with charity, and their goals change.
Our young children, students in school, need encouragement. The youth need it. Too much negative and correction without encouragement can bring confusion and rebellion. They crave love—we all do. What they may really want, but not tell you, are instructions out of love and to have faithful parents who have victories and can talk of the joys of Christian life. We need to build relationships with our children.
Maybe you’re the discouraged, one and the accuser of the brethren comes and says, “See, no one has noticed your trials; they don’t care about you. You could have real friends who care outside the church.” And it’s easy to listen and become offended.
As the world and technology influence us to become more and more independent, it doesn’t seem like it will get any easier to be open and care for each other. The god of this world will only try harder to take away our strength. We simply will have to make time to be quiet and listen to the Lord speak. We will have to ask God to help us have the proper love to allow us to continue on united and as the light of the world. Baring our souls face to face, heart to heart, does something to our spirits and gives joy in the journey. There are different ways to encourage and give someone a lift. What I have been impressed with is the personal way—a genuine interest in people’s welfare. You may give a little advice or none at all; maybe it’s just listening. Witnessing a faithful Christian’s life can be an encouragement to the world but may not be enough for the discouraged brother who knows what Christian life is about. Sometimes we need to get out of our comfort zone. It could require an extra burden or responsibility or a mile walked in their moccasins. Doesn’t the Spirit prompt us at times? It’s an important responsibility! “Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down” (Heb. 12:12-13). “Comfort the feebleminded, support the weak” (1 Thess. 5:14). A text or e-mail is good many times, but in certain situations, is this an easy way out? There are many small ways we can show a little kindness behind the scenes, unrewarded even, except by a warm feeling. If the Spirit prompts us with the thought to call or go and encourage someone personally, let’s be obedient. We may be pulling our brother from the fire.
I am your brother in the battle.
From Messenger of Truth, Vol. 110, No. 17, August 22, 2012